When John’s church sent him out, they were sending him to pastor the colonist at Fort Christina along the Delaware River (the first Swedish settlement in North America). Another minister had started the work there, but had died early on, leaving the colony with no church and no pastor. When John arrived, he dove in to the work at the colony. He built the first church building in the colony, and what would be the first Lutheran church building in all of America.
But from the very start, John realized his call was to more than just this group of colonist. He was called to the Native Americans as well. He soon developed a strong relationship the Lenape tribe in the area. He became fluent and their language and was able to translate several books into their language. John also became an expert in their culture. He learned the best way to speak to them and recognized things that connected their culture with the truths from the Bible. His grandson described the beginning of the relationship John shared with the Lenape:
The Indians were frequent visitors at my grandfather’s house. When, for the first time, he performed divine services in the Swedish congregation, they came to hear him, and greatly wondered that he had so much to say, and that he stood alone, and talked so long, while all the rest were listening in silence. This excited in them strange suspicions; they thought everything was not right, and that some conspiracy was going forward among us; in consequence of which my grandfather’s life, for some time, in considerable danger from the Indians who daily came to him and asked him many questions. In those conversations, however, he gradually succeeded in making them understand that there was one Lord God and that He was self-existing, one and in three persons.
John stayed in the colonies for about five years. He was then summoned back to Sweden, where he pastored until he died.
On this day in 1745, David Brainerd preached to a group of white settlers on “the sunny side of the hill”. Many people, hearing of the work Brainerd had done among the Indians, traveled 20-30 miles to hear him.
David preached to the crowd from John 7:37 – 38, “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
In his diary, David recorded the following about the meeting:
In the afternoon it pleased God to grant me great freedom and fervency in my discourse and I was enabled to imitate the example of Christ in the text who stood and cried. I think I was scarce ever enabled to offer the free grace of God to perishing sinners with more freedom and plainness in my life. Afterwards, I was enabled earnestly to invite the children of God to come renewedly and drink of this fountain of the water of life from whence they have heretofore derived unspeakable satisfaction. It was a very comfortable time to me. There were many tears in the assembly and I doubt not but that the Spirit of God was there convincing poor sinners of their need of Christ.
In the evening I felt composed and comfortable though much tired. I had some sweet sense of the excellency and glory of God. My soul rejoiced that he was God over all, blessed for ever. But I was too much crowded with company and conversation and longed to be more alone with God. Oh that I could for ever bless God for the mercy of this day, who answered me in the joy of my heart.
But even though he saw great victory on this day, the deep depression that so often plagued this faithful servant soon returned to him:
The remainder of this week seems to have been spent under a decay of this life and joy and in distressing conflicts with corruption but not without some seasons of refreshment and comfort
Check out bcwe.org